by Andrew J. FerraroDaily Cougar Staff
Even though Texas Longhorns coach Cliff Gustafson has one of the slowest walks out to the mound, it doesn't take anything away from his coaching -- he still has the most career wins in Southwest Conference history, and the best record this season as well.
After sweeping the Cougars in three games this weekend, the Longhorns have improved to 27-13 on the year and 9-2 in the SWC.
Although Houston starter Jon McDonald had the lead going into the sixth inning Sunday, it still wasn't enough to hold back the explosive bats of the Longhorns. After holding Texas scoreless in the top of the first, Houston (18-18, 2-9 in the SWC) scored three runs on five hits to take only its second lead of the series at 3-0.
Cougars shortstop Dominic Hernandez led things off with a single that was just out of the reach of Texas second baseman Wylie Campbell.
After center fielder Dustin Carr put down a sacrifice bunt, Brandon Milam doubled in Hernandez and later scored on an RBI single by Joaquin Martinez.
First baseman Scott McLeod, making his first start since he pitched in the home opener on Feb. 14, doubled to the gap in right center, scoring Martinez.
The inning ended when McLeod was thrown out at home trying to score on a single by freshman catcher Bruce Rios.
After hitting three batters in a row to start the second inning, McDonald allowed just one run after loading the bases with no outs.
After pitching three scoreless innings in a row, McDonald was relieved by Tommy Marik after giving up a leadoff single to first baseman Danny Peoples.
McDonald went five-plus innings, allowing just three runs on three hits, walking three and striking out five.
"I felt confident going out there today because I wanted to improve over my performance from last time (against Texas)," McDonald said. "I wanted to throw some different pitches, other than fastballs, and keep them guessing."
With Texas leading 4-3 in the seventh, Hernandez again led off with a single, sparking another Cougars rally.
After Carr walked, Milam put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Hernandez and Carr into scoring position.
Jason Schreiber popped out, and Martinez hit a grounder that looked like it had just enough on it to squeeze through the infield.
Campbell had other plans, though, as he made a diving catch off a short hop, throwing Martinez out at first.
"Who knows what would have happened if he hadn't made that play," Gustafson said. "(The play) was probably responsible for waking us up and scoring some more runs."
After that play, the Longhorns scored seven runs off reliever Mark Manbeck on seven hits over the eighth and ninth innings to win the game 11-3.
On Saturday, Texas completed a double-header sweep, defeating the Cougars 6-1 and 10-5, respectively, in front of 1,307 at Cougar Field.
In game one, Texas was led by Peoples, who went 3-for-3, including his 10th homer of the year.
Scott O'Dell limited the Cougars to just one run on five hits, walking two and striking out five.
In game two, errors proved costly as the Cougars blew an early 4-3 lead as Danny Crawford allowed three unearned runs to score, giving him the loss in one inning of relief.
"(Sweeping Houston) means that we're in pretty good shape going into the Tech series," Gustafson said. "I sure didn't want to lose any ground on them."